Taft High School isn’t going to be the same in the aftermath of the Jan. 10 shooting that left a student gravely wounded and another facing life in prison.
That was clear from comments made by interim Supt. William McDermott at a Tuesday evening meeting with concerned parents.
In discussing increased safety measures the district is considering, he hinted that the district’s open campus policy could be in jeopardy.
“Taft High has always been an open campus,” he said. “Reality has stepped in. In light of that we will be reviewing all of our policies, all of our practices in order to improve. You can always improve.
McDermott described all of the district’s previous policies and practices as reasonable, but added, “but times have changed very quickly.”
He reviewed immediate changes and those that will be in place in the future.
In place already:
The campus can be accessed through only three entrances that will be watched in the morning by campus staff and, at times, law enforcement.
Gates, including the staff parking lot, will be locked during the school day. Students arriving in the morning can only enter through the front door of the main building.
During lunch, students can leave and return through the main building and the gate between the cafeteria and a classroom wing. They will be locked when class resumes.
Driveway gates at the cafeteria and science building (where the shooting occurred) will be rebuilt with locks and “panic bars” to facilitate exit routes in case of emergencies such as a fire.
Additional security cameras will be installed at entry points.
Automatic openers and closers will be installed on entry gates, including the one on the alley between the football stadium and softball fields.
McDermott said an adviser from the FBI who specializes in school violence will be on campus “in the next few days” to guide administrators through a review of safety issues.
Additionally, representatives from the Tehachapi Unified School District will be on hand to provide advice and guidance in bolstering sexual harassment and bullying policies. The Tehachapi district was required to develop strong procedures after a bullied gay student committed suicide. In the aftermath of that incident the state legislature passed what is known as “Seth’s Law” to put a heavier focus on bullying and its consequences.